OIBR Affiliate, Anna Abraham, and E. Paul Torrance Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and director of the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent, spoke on creativity in a recent article from the American Psychological Association’s magazine Monitor on Psychology.
The article, “The science behind creativity,” delves into the field of creativity, including research on how creativity works and how to increase and measure it. Researchers have conducted experiments — like creating paintings based off ideas generated while in hypnagogia, the state between sleep and wakefulness — and evaluated the definition of creativity.
“Across different age groups, the best predictor of creativity is openness to new experiences,” Abraham said. “Creative people have the kind of curiosity that draws them toward learning new things and experiencing the world in new ways.”
Along with openness to new experiences, she found two other factors that predict peak originality in teenagers in her research: intelligence and time spent working on creative hobbies.
For both teenagers and adults, Abraham said creativity requires practice, and that adults need to delegate time in their schedules, find the right conditions for their creativity, and keep trying.
“People want the booster shot for creativity. But creativity isn’t something that comes magically. It’s a skill, and as with any new skill, the more you practice, the better you get,” she said. In a not-yet-published study, she found three factors predicted peak originality in teenagers: openness to experience, intelligence, and, importantly, time spent engaged in creative hobbies. That is, taking the time to work on creative pursuits makes a difference. And the same is true for adults, she said. “Carve out time for yourself, figure out the conditions that are conducive to your creativity, and recognize that you need to keep pushing yourself. You won’t get to where you want to go if you don’t try.”